Reading a magazine about blogging earlier this week, I tried to remember exactly why I began Gaia Garden
. Was it simply to share the photos I was taking as I gardened? To share the plants and animals I found as my hands dug in the soil surrounding our home? Amazingly, I realized that I started writing this blog over 11 1/2 years - and 2 gardens - ago, in March 2006, while we lived in Mobile, Alabama. I must say that my memory is fuzzy on many of the details. I do remember clearly, though, that our son Sean had a LOT to do with my starting this blog. He basically bullied me into picking a name ("It doesn't have to be perfect, Mom!"), picked a platform he felt would work well for me, and in those lovingly irritating ways, actually got me online with my first posts.
To refresh my mind about my deeper motivations, however, I decided to go back to the earliest posts and see what I had to say for myself....
In my very first post, "New Beginnings"
, I wrote that "...it's not just gardening that interests me. It's gardening within the genius of the place, gardening that celebrates the local flora and fauna." That certainly still rings true. If anything, I think I've become even more fascinated by what is now known as "gardening with native plants". I like the way I phrased it back then, though. "The genius of the place..." It sounds much softer, even somewhat romantic. That is a concept that I haven't thought about for a long time.
So different from the prairies of southcentral Kansas and our last garden, the "genius of the place" here in our Florida panhandle neighborhood is reflected in Spanish moss literally dripping from evergreen oak trees.
A little further along in that same post, I mentioned hoping to gently encourage a sense of cooperation between gardeners and the natural elements in their gardens, as opposed to the more common combative feel of gardeners battling nature's tendencies. At least in my own mind, this concept is central to most of my posts to this day.
Towards the end of that original post, I started to wrap up by expressing a broadening mission for my new blog: "Since gardening works so well as a metaphor for living, along the way I expect to be looking for ties to philosophy, politics, literature, and any other subject that "crops up." I hope to hear from others who are similarly involved...or even just interested in the process."
It's in that final, broader hope for where my blog might lead me that I feel I've perhaps lost my way. In recent years I have found it quicker and easier to share photos and explore what I'm actually seeing as I garden than it has been for me to delve into other facets of life that I think about or learn while I'm getting my hands dirty.
So my blog has become more photo driven. Is that a good thing...or not? We all seem to respond instinctively to photos, so in that regard it's helpful, but it can also be limiting to rely too heavily on them. For example, so far in 2017, the only "philosophical" post that I have written
was to think a bit about what I think about as I garden. Hardly deep stuff, but I was
able to find photos to illustrate my thoughts!
It's also not deep (literary) stuff, but if a book seems relevant to science or gardening or the environment, I still do book reviews, as in this 2014 post about "A Sting in the Tale" by Dave Goulson
. In the last several years, though, this is about as close to "...ties to philosophy, politics, literature..." beyond gardening as I get. Sigh.
Another big change I see in my post topics, compared to 2006, is that I am a lot more involved these days in identifying insects and figuring out what they are doing in the garden. For example, note this little halictid bee, feeding on the nectar and pollen of the Gaillardia bloom - and pollinating the plant in the process. Sometimes I actually feel as if growing plants has now become secondary, for me, to learning about and nurturing bees, butterflies, spiders, and other wildlife in my gardens! Ironically, photos are a big part of WHY this change has occurred, as I got a DSLR camera several years ago and am now able to take pictures of a small insect, enlarge them, and identify the species. Knowing the actual identity of the insect I'm seeing allows me to research its biology. In fact, I'm becoming quite the bug nerd, at least in my own mind.
Well, it's time to wrap this up. Enough navel gazing.
Upshot? In general, I think I'm still on track. I'd like to work in some more "tangential" subjects as blog post topics, if only because I'm finding it fun to go back and read those posts, years later.
For my own sanity, I'd like to get back into regular posting - blogging feels creative in a way that Facebook posts don't. I think more carefully about what I'm saying when I write a full blog post, and I rework the wording to get as precise as possible about what I mean. I can more easily choose my topics, too, which in this current political clime is not all bad.
So, onward into the next 11 1/2 years! I wonder how many gardens I'll have made in that next interval of time - and where we'll be putting our literal and figurative roots down by then?